Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How Collaboration Has Changed Me

Collaboration...what does that make you think of?  I've recently had a bit of a revelation about collaboration and I want to share my insight with you.  

The word has been around, but my definition of it has changed dramatically.  That being said, I'd like to take you on a little journey through my inner dialogue as the word collaboration has come up in the past.

High School - I get to collaborate on a project...sweet, that means I get to hang out with my friends to "work" on a project.  Really we'll spend about 2 1/2 hours of gossiping and 30 minutes of working.  I love collaboration.

College - I have to collaborate on a project...really, ugh.  Now I'm going to have to do all the work on my own because I don't trust my group mates to do it right.  I hate collaboration.

Graduate School - I have to collaborate on a project...thank the lord, I am so busy I am barely going to have time to do my own share of the work.  My group better know what they're doing.  I love collaboration.

First 10 years of teaching - You want me to collaborate with other teachers in my building...okay, but when?  I have lesson plans to complete and curriculum to learn (because lord knows I haven't taught the same grade level for more than 3 years in a row).  I'd love to collaborate, but I don't know what I have to offer.  I am still a rookie, here.  What if they don't like my ideas?  What if I say something stupid?  I'll collaborate, but I think I'll mostly listen.  I'm afraid of collaboration.

Last 2 years (aka - since I started my love affair with Twitter) - problem.  I have developed and excellent PLN that I can go to with questions, ideas, etc. and I KNOW they can help.  Want to know how I know?  Because they are amazing, intelligent, passionate people.  Collaboration...can't live without it!

Are you ready for my revelation about collaboration?  For you to collaborate, you don't have to be in the same room with someone...heck, you don't even have to be in the same country!  The world we live in right now is full of opportunities to connect with people all over the world, and you know what?  They have incredibly insightful things to offer...who knew!?!

So I throw this out there to you all.  Get connected.  Find people with common interests, teaching methods, and educational beliefs as you.  If you are a flipped teacher, fill out the "connection forms" here and start meeting people.  Believe me, it will change you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Take aways from #miflip

This weekend I had the privilege to help plan/host/present at a conference that is all about flipped classrooms.  The conference was on a the middle of January...for free.  Did I mention that almost 150 teachers showed up!  Crazy!  I wanted to share a few of my take-aways from the conference:

#1 Brian Bennett (@bennettscience) is an excellent keynote speaker!  He managed to weave an elephant into his keynote and leave everyone motivated and excited.

#2 Karl (@kls4711) has an infectious laugh, and I am pretty sure he was the life of the party in college.

#3 There are some AMAZING teachers in Michigan!

#4 I got to meet Erin Klein...enough said.

#5 I got to present with Brian Bennett...enough said.

#6 Most importantly, this is what PD needs to be.  We managed to weave some directed sessions (where attendees had a choice of where they wanted to go) and Edcamp sessions (where teachers signed up for what they were interested in talking/learning about) together.  Everyone left energized and motivated.

So I ask the question...why?  Why can't district PD be like this?  It was useful, energizing, and dare I say!

I hope that I am asked to help again next year...if there is a next year.  What do you think, was it worth your while?

I'll wrap up this post with some of my favorite tweets of the day.


I have a confession to make...I have become a Twitter stalker.  A few months back I saw a lot of teachers that I have mad respect for start throwing around the #coflip hashtag.  I figured I missed some relevant discussion that talked about what #coflip was, but after looking back, I couldn't find anything...that was where my stalking began.

For weeks, I kept seeing #co-this and #co-that with no explanation.  Finally, in a moment of weakness I finally asked.  WTF is #coflip!  As it turns out, #coflip represents collaboration...amongst teachers...without fear of being judged, laughed at, or made to feel inadequate.

To me, collaboration has always been an important part of my teaching.  I've never been the teacher to shut my door, and I certainly don't have a problem sharing my ideas and input, so the idea of collaboration amongst teachers isn't anything new to me.  That being said, after reading Andrew Thomasson's post about a little project we've been working on, I gained some new perspective.  He mentions 3 reasons teachers are afraid to collaborate.  The first 2 aren't me, per se, but the 3rd I have certainly experienced.  He talks about being afraid to collaborate because you're afraid your ideas aren't good enough.  I think that for rookie teachers, this certainly has a ring of truth.  I felt that as a rookie flipper...still do at times.

One of the best choices I've made, however, is not letting that self-consciousness stop me from reaching out to others.  I freely admit that I don't have everything figured out...and I probably won't anytime soon.  What I do know is that by collaborating with other teachers (my flipping partner and my tweeps), I have become a better doubt about it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

MIFlip 2013...BE THERE!

For the past few months, I have had the pleasure of helping plan the first ever Michigan Flipteaching Conference with a number of other Michigan teachers (and one from Cali...thanks Karl).  I realized this week 2 things:

1)  I haven't blogged about it yet.

2)  It's only 2 weeks away...yikes!

So here is what I can tell you so far.  The conference is going to be held on January 19th from 9:00 - 3:00 at Byron Center High School.  It is also 100% FREE!

The day will start out with a keynote from Brian Bennett (who, as an aside, I'm very excited to meet f2f).  After that, we'll have 4 different sessions.

Session 1 - This session will be a little more guided, with topics you can choose from that range from PBL to flipped class 101 to flipped class for veteran teachers, etc.

Session 2 - This session will be EdCamp style, where we'll be getting topics from the if you're coming, bring some ideas with you ;)  If you're not familiar with the EdCamp format, check out this short video from EdCamp Philly.

Session 3 - This will follow the same format as session 2...EdCamp style

Session 4 - For our final session we thought we'd do another session of "topics" you can choose from.  These will all be content specific.  I'll be talking flipped classroom from an elementary perspective, but there will be math, science, social studies, english and even administration covered in the last session.

To wrap up the day, we'll hand out some door prizes, give away some swag, etc.

In addition to the sessions that will be running all day, Techsmith will also be available to help with screencasting.

All-in-all it is going to be a most excellent day of learning & fun, so if you're in Michigan on January 19th, please join us!

To register, or for more information, please check out our website:

Also...spread the word!  We want to make our first MIFlip Conference a success!

Wake up call

A funny thing happened to me before I left for winter break that I want to share.  To start off, I need to give you a little background information.  

My class has been blogging with two other 5th grade classes about flipped math (I've already posted about that).  One of those classes is located in New Jersey, and they were hit pretty hard by Hurricane Sandy.  My class was concerned, and wanted to do something about it.  They decided to sell carnations at our music concert to raise money for some of the families that were impacted by the hurricane.  We were able to purchase $300 worth of gift cards for those families...but that's not the point of this post.  I want to tell you what happened after we sent the gift cards to the families.

The teacher in New Jersey (John Fritzky) tweeted to me because he wanted to surprise my students with pizza as a thank-you.  We chatted back & forth about where he should order from, and what time it should arrive.  We decided to have it delivered after 2nd recess as a snack.  My students were THRILLED, and completely surprised, after all that's not why they raised the money...but that is still not the point of this post.

At the end of the day we have "guided academics" which is basically RtI for math.  One of our RtI teachers (Mrs. Greemann) came down during the pizza hoopla & was talking with her group of kids.  Their conversation is the point of this post...prepare yourself, because it's funny and a little sad at the same time.  Their conversation went a little like this:

Mrs. Greemann:  Where did the pizza come from?

Student 1:  A school in New Jersey sent it to us.

Mrs. Greemann:  All the way from New Jersey?

Student 1: Yup, they mailed it all the way from New Jersey.

Yes...he really thought that the pizza was mailed to us.

Student 2: No, they didn't mail it from New Jersey, it'd be all messy...they drove it here.

Yes...he really thought that they drove the pizza here all the way from New Jersey.

At this point Mrs. Greemann is trying (with much difficulty) not to laugh.

Student 3:  Don't be dumb, they didn't drive all the way from New Jersey!  They called a pizza place here & they delivered it.

Thank goodness, right?  At least someone gets it!  WRONG.

Student 1:  Oh yeah, if they called & ordered it, then how did they pay?

Student 3:  They just put some cash in an envelope & mailed it to them.

Needless to say, Mrs. Greemann scrapped her planned lesson & they talked through how someone from New Jersey could buy pizza for someone in Michigan.

I've had a few weeks to think about this conversation, and I continue to be amazed at the lack of real world understanding the students have.  It also reaffirms my belief that I need to continue making the student's learning applicable to the real world.  

Who would have thought that a nice gesture, like buying pizza for someone, could turn into a lesson in economics :)